white, noun and & adjective

Also with initial capital.
EnglishShow more Special senses of general English.
A. noun
1. Ostrich-farming. [Absolute use of general English white ‘of the colour of snow or milk’ (OED).] prime.
c1881 A. Douglass Ostrich Farming 81Sort first into heaps consisting of prime whites, first whites, second whites, tipped whites.
1890 A. Martin Home Life 103A large and magnificent bunch of wing-feathers, the finest and longest of ‘prime whites’.
1909 J.E. Duerden in Agric. Jrnl of Cape of G.H. XXXIV. 523Whites..include nearly all the wing-quills of the cock bird, both primaries and secondaries, and number about 24 from each wing. They are the most valuable of all the feathers, and are pure white, any admixture of black or grey placing them in a different class.
c1911 S. Playne Cape Col. 721Ounceman has the record of yielding the heaviest plucking of ‘whites’ in the country, the return actually weighing 14 oz.
1930, 1973 [see prime].
2. In historical contexts. [Special sense of general English white one of light skin colour, one of European descent.] Designating a person:
a. During the apartheid era: one classified as belonging to the ‘white’ group, especially in terms of the Population Registration Act (see quotation 1950 at sense B 1 a). See also classify, non-white noun, playwhite.
1966 Survey of Race Rel. 1965 (S.A.I.R.R.) 112Japanese people in South Africa are classified as ‘Other Asiatics’ under the Population Registration Act, but as Whites under the Group Areas Act.
1970 Survey of Race Rel. (S.A.I.R.R.) 25She and her parents and grandmother have always lived as whites, and have white identity cards.
b. Special Combinations
white-on-black adjective, of or pertaining to racially motivated aggression perpetrated by a white person or persons against a black person or persons; cf. black-on-black (see black noun sense 1 d);
whites only adjectival phrase Historical, alluding to the wording on signs erected at places reserved for the use of white people; used attributively in designating such signs, places so reserved, or activities restricted to white people.
1989 City Press 19 Feb. 9White on black violence.
1992 Sunday Times 9 Feb. 18A spate of ‘retaliatory’ white-on-black attacks also took place.
1973 E. Prov. Herald 27 Mar. 1The Whites only signs had disappeared.
1986 R.J. Cotton Ag, Man 26We..are basking on the whites-only shores.
1989 Sunday Star 26 Feb. (Review Suppl.) 12For those who believe a stopover in Louis Trichardt is a whites-only affair, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
1990 G. Slovo Ties of BloodThis is a whites-only facility. If you want to catch a train you must wait outside.
1991 M. Kantey All Tickets 10I began..within a four-coach Whites Only section of an eight-coach electric-driven train.
1992 W. Knowler in Weekend Mercury 4 Jan. 6How about recycling those ‘whites only’ signs and turning them into bins on poles?
1992 S. Macleod in Time 9 Mar. 26The growing strength of the..Conservative Party has forced President F.W. de Klerk to hold a whites-only referendum.
1992 S. Memela in Pace Sept. 176Every now and then I visit my childhood friends..living in the formerly whites-only Northern Suburbs.
B. adjective
I. Of ethnicity.
1. [Special senses of general English white of light skin colour, of European descent.] During the apartheid era:
a. In historical contexts. Of an individual: classified as a ‘white person’ in terms of the Population Registration Act (see quotation 1950). See also classify, Honorary White.
1950 Act 30 in Stat. of Union 277‘White person’ means a person who in appearance obviously is, or who is generally accepted as a white person, but does not include a person who, although in appearance obviously a white person, is generally accepted as a coloured person.
1950 Act 30 in Stat. of Union 279Every person whose name is included in the register shall be classified by the Director as a white person, a coloured person or a native, as the case may be.
1952 P. Abrahams in Drum July 11He had known a Coloured man who had been white nearly all his life, who had fought in the last war as a white officer, who had had a world of white friends — and then became a Coloured man quite suddenly.
1966 Survey of Race Rel. 1965 (S.A.I.R.R.) 112Mr W— had a ‘White’ birth certificate and identity card, but admitted when questioned that his mother was Coloured...His wife was originally classified as White but officials later changed her classification to Coloured.
1970 Survey of Race Rel. (S.A.I.R.R.) 19The Minister of the Interior said that a person could not be classified as white unless both his parents were so classified.
1977 Survey of Race Rel. (S.A.I.R.R.) 33The Secretary for the Interior altered the race classification of the following number of persons..White to Cape Coloured 14, Cape Coloured to White 24, [etc.].
1985 Race Rel. Survey 1984 (S.A.I.R.R.) 186Race classification...White to Coloured 4, Coloured to white 462...White to Chinese 4, [etc.].
1985 Race Rel. Survey 1984 (S.A.I.R.R.) 186His wife, who had a fair skin, would qualify for a white classification.
b. historical. Reserved by law for those classified as ‘white’; usually attributive, as white area, white beach, white job, white liquor, white school, white taxi, etc.
1957 D. Jacobson Price of Diamonds 90This was true of the white and coloured areas alone, for the natives lived in locations.
1961 D. Marais Hey! Van der Merwe (cartoon)They’ll be able to buy White liquor. But will you and I be able to buy skokiaan..?
1961 Star 22 Nov. 1Japanese..may buy houses in White areas and own ground there, they may use all White amenities, including transport and liquor. This was confirmed by Government officials in Pretoria today.
1963 A.M. Louw 20 Days 80Now I hear that this whole street will be proclaimed White.
1968 J. Lelyveld in Cole & Flaherty House of Bondage 8The Government considers Soweto a..social aberration in what has now been declared a ‘white area’.
1970 Daily News 9 JuneThe Minister of Labour’s decision to allow increased use of Coloureds in ‘White’ jobs is obviously welcome.
1972 Daily Dispatch 17 Feb. 1Taking into consideration the time factor involved in negotiations to buy white land,..final consolidation could be as far away as ten years.
1972 J. Scott in J. Crwys-Williams S. Afr. Despatches (1989) 407Come back along the platform to the point where the black coaches end and the white ones begin.
1975 Daily Dispatch 13 June 10No signs indicating whether the restaurants are ‘black’ or ‘white’ are displayed.
1977 F.G. Butler Karoo Morning 204To the south of the white town was an area with indeterminate frontiers...Here lived the Coloureds.
1982 E. Prov. Herald 14 June 1Early on Saturday morning a delegation of Fingos watched and listened as Parliament put the final seal on its plans to turn white 4800 hectares of land which had for 140 years been home to the Fingos.
1986 W. Baker in Style July 88In ‘white’ areas there are ‘coloured’ people renting houses or even owning them by proxy arrangements with sympathetic ‘whites’.
1986 M. Ramgobin Waiting to Live 114This is a white taxi...I am not here for your kaffir girls!
1987 E. Prov. Herald 25 July 4His announcement that he would again swim off a white beach was an attempt to steal the limelight...Were Mr Hendrickse to bathe his body in white seawater..he would..attract greater international attention than any number of Channel swimmers.
1987 B. Orpen in E. Prov. Herald 18 May 2Margaret will speak at..the white school in the afternoon.
1987 Pretoria News 17 June 5The government turned away all 148 blacks who applied to study at ‘white’ agricultural colleges in 1986.
1991 Weekend Argus 26 Jan. 14There was a haphazard retreat from grand apartheid, with the granting of leasehold, and eventually freehold, property rights to blacks in ‘white’ areas.
c. Offensive and derogatory. Impudent, presumptuous; cf. cheeky. Often as an aggressive and racist warning given to a black person, don’t get white, don’t get white with (someone); sometimes used in contexts (e.g. of an animal) in which the offensively racist origin of the sense has been lost.
1978 A.P. Brink Rumours of Rain 247It’s a real problem. They’re getting too white, is what I say.
1978 Informant, GrahamstownShe cheeked me — hell she’s white, that one.
1988 S.A. Botha in Frontline Apr.May 24‘I tjaaf you, the peckies are getting white these days...You can’t trust them’, said Don.
1988 K. Lemmer in Weekly Mail 9 Dec. 19Said journalist’s..kitten leapt into said Flo’s lap...Barked Flo: ‘Hey! Don’t get white with me, kitten.’ The feline was a Red Burmese.
1989 M. Nicol Powers that Be 62Who should he engage as gardener but a no-good layabout..the whitest kaffir he’d ever come across. Besides, this white kaffir had talked a hole in Mondling’s head.
1990 Sunday Times 13 May 13Her 16-year-old brother..was threatened with a gun and told: ‘Don’t be smart and get white with us’ when he protested about the search.
d. Special collocations and phrases
white by night adjectival phrase Historical, (of a municipal policy or regulation) having the aim of keeping black people out of an area after dark or after a certain hour, especially by the imposition of a curfew; (of a town or area) falling under such a regulation or policy; (of actions) resulting from such a policy or aimed at enforcing such regulations; frequently attributive;
White South Africa, a collective term designating (a) those areas of South Africa which, during the apartheid era, were reserved for occupation by whites; (b) white South Africans collectively; (c) the cultural and social milieux and values of such people;
white spot historical [formed by analogy with black spot], a white-occupied area surrounded by black-occupied areas; cf. black spot; collectively, the inhabitants of such an area; also attributive.
c1970 C. Desmond Discarded People 165The vacated houses are now being used as hostels for domestic servants, since Pietersburg is ‘White by night’.
1970 Post 15 Mar. 9Friday 13th was doubly unlucky for Germiston’s domestics — it was the start of the ‘exodus’ into Natalspruit at night as the ‘Germiston White by Night’ policy came into effect.
1970 Rand Daily Mail 12 Nov. 14Africans are not only expected to grin and bear the hardships brought on by apartheid, but they are..expected to help finance the policy as well...The ‘White-by-night’ programme is another harsh illustration of this.
1971 Daily News 17 Apr. 4The new White suburbs will not allow servants to live-in so as to conform with the White-by-Night policy so beloved by verkramptes.
1978 B.J. Motaung in Staffrider Vol.1 No.2, 22The women sing about their children, who have turned moles in West Deep Levels and Owls in the white-by-night Johannesburg.
1989 City Press 19 Feb. 9White-by-night beatings: we will not take it!
1988 Benoni Homefinder & Advertiser 1 June 1No permit is required for occupation by domestic employees of a legal occupier of the premises, with the provision that such an area has not been declared ‘White by Night’.
1989 City Press 19 Feb. 9The CP council might reintroduce white-by-night regulations — curfews on blacks.
1926 R. Campbell in Voorslag July 16You people get an ideal like ‘White South Africa’ tied to your noses and then you can’t see anything else.
1968 J. Lelyveld in Cole & Flaherty House of Bondage 14The last thing white South Africa is prepared to see black South Africa have is a voice.
1973 Weekend Post 27 Oct. 17The Government has now in effect accepted the permanence of Africans in ‘White’ South Africa.
1982 D. Tutu Voice of One 108Whites..say that blacks have no claim to political representation in ‘white’ South Africa.
1982 D. Tutu Voice of One 109It will mean a declension in the very high standard of living that white South Africa enjoys.
1992 F. Keating in Guardian Weekly 9 Oct. 31Rugby is spiritually entwined in the very soul of white South Africa.
1992 P. Hawthorne in Time 21 Sept. 37Blacks..would be permitted to work in white South Africa only as temporary residents.
1952 Drum Mar. 25 (caption)Where Black Meets White: A Street Corner in the Western Areas, where a White Spot (right) adjoins a Black Spot (left).
1955 Rand Daily Mail 11 May 11‘White spot’ plan: Commerce Support for Meeting.
1960 J.H. Coetzee in H. Spottiswoode S. Afr.: Rd Ahead 70Consider the reaction of the Transkeian White spots against Bantu self-rule.
1966 Survey of Race Rel. 1965 (S.A.I.R.R.) 201Smaller townships are being laid out beside ‘White spot’ towns, such as Eshowe (Sundimbili and Gezinsela), Umzimkulu (Bisi), Babanango (Mphungamhope), Empangeni (Ngwelezana), and others.
1973 Star 10 May 26‘White spots’ problem. Can a ‘nation’ like Transkei make sense while its capital, Umtata, remains firmly White?..It’s a problem of ‘White spots’.
1976 Sunday Times 10 Oct. 19The cafe is a White spot within a Black spot (a Black-zoned part of Umtata) within a White spot (Umtata itself) within a Black spot (the Transkei) within a White spot (the Republic) within a Black spot (the African continent).
1990 Varsity Voice Apr. 15It’s a ‘white spot’ with full representation in the South African Parliament.
II. General. [Special uses of general English white ‘of the colour of snow or milk’ (OED), light-coloured.]
2. Special collocations
white button, a badge worn by ‘bitter-enders’ during the closing months of the South African War, 1900–1902; see also bitter-ender;
white els, white else /ˈwaɪtels/, also with initial capitals [partial translation of South African Dutch witte els, see wit els], (a) wit els; also attributive; (b) with defining word, water white els, Brachylaena neriifolia;
White French, see as a main entry;
white lightning [translation of Afrikaans witblits (see witblits); cf. U.S. white lightning illicitly distilled whisky], witblits sense b;
white pear, the evergreen tree Apodytes dimidiata subspecies dimidiata (family Icacinaceae); the wood of this tree;
white pipe, see pipe sense 2 b;
white sore throat Pathology [calque formed on Afrikaans witseerkeel diphtheria, wit white + seer sore + keel throat], diphtheria;
White Train [so named for the colour of its livery], a special train used for ceremonial and state occasions; also figurative.
1903 E.F. Knight S. Afr. after War 112These men..took to wearing ‘the white button’ on the left breasts — the badge that distinguishes those who fought to the end from those who surrendered or were taken prisoner.
1903 E.F. Knight S. Afr. after War 200Here many ex-burghers were still wearing the white button to show that they were among those that held out to the end.
1790 W. Paterson Narr. of Four Journeys 34I found myself by the White Else River, which takes its name from a tree, called by the Dutch, White Else.
1833 S. Afr. Almanac & Dir. 195The other woods most in request, and found in Albany, are..Red and White Else [etc.].
1887 J.C. Brown Management of Crown Forests 122White Els...Requires from 30 to 50 years before useful; it is used for boat-building, for waggon sides, and chests.
1973 E. Prov. Herald 13 (advt)One White Els Chest.
1987 T.F.J. Van Rensburg Intro. to Fynbos 16Another typical riverbank species is the water white els (Brachylaena neriifolia), with its bushy grey-green foliage.
1972 J. McClure Caterpillar Cop (1974) 85It’s bloody dangerous when a kaffir gets filled up on white-lightning!
1977 Family Radio & TV 19 Sept. 51As the fires were lit under the clay-sealed copper stills, the call would go out, ‘The cow is giving milk.’ And those in the know would arrive carrying milk-cans to collect their white lightning.
1988 D. Hughes et al. Complete Bk of S. Afr. Wine 332Witblits, Otherwise known as Dop, White Lightning, Boerblits, Cape Smoke, or Kaapse Smaak.
1831 S. Afr. Almanac & Dir. 187The other woods most in request, and found in Albany are..Red and White Pear, Saffran.
1837 J.E. Alexander Narr. of Voy. I. 347Dutch wheels are made of three or four kinds of wood;..for the fellow, red els, or white pear.
1887 J.C. Brown Management of Crown Forests 122White Pear, Grows from seed, and shoots from the stump; of slow growth, and must be 20 or 30 years old to be useful for waggon-wood.
1907 J.M. Wood Handbk to Flora of Natal 31Apodytes dimidiata is the well-known ‘White Pear,’ its wood being extensively used for felloes, etc.
1913 H. Tucker Our Beautiful Peninsula 5Hillside forests of yellow-wood, white pear and other native timber trees.
1919 Dunell, Ebden & Co.’s Price List Aug. 35Felloes...Scotch Cart, White Pear, 2/8.
1936 E. Rosenthal Old-Time Survivals 10Red pear, red els, white pear, and scores of other precious African timbers go to the making..of the conveyance.
1955 A. Delius Young Trav. in S. Afr. 114Other trees are white pears, assegai, [etc.].
1971 Baraitser & Obholzer Cape Country Furn. 63Its loose inset seat..is made of pearwood, that is the wood of the white pear.
1994 S. Howell in Weekend Post 1 Jan. 2Mr Howell appealed to anyone who could help the museum with suitable hardwood — such as white pear and ironwood —..to contact him.
1866 Cape Town Dir. 173It was found that white sore throat had set in, and she became decidedly worse.
1891 H.J. Duckitt Hilda’s ‘Where Is It?’ 99For White Sore Throat. Take half an ounce of chloride of potash, dissolved in a quart bottle of water. One tablespoonful three times a day.
1913 A. Glossop Barnes’s S. Afr. Hsehold Guide 238A splendid gargle, especially if there is any indication of what is called a white sore throat..is prepared from the ‘Goonah’ plant.
1915 D. Fairbridge Torch Bearer 178‘It may be diphtheria,’ she said...‘My cook..sent to say that her two children were ill with white sore throats.’
1965 K. Mackenzie DeserterGert and Marietjie had fallen sick with the white sore throat.
1937 C.R. Prance Tante Rebella’s Saga 101The great man must go..to Kimberley by the best approximation to a ‘White Train’ that the old Cape Government Railways could provide.
1947 Rand Daily Mail 15 Feb. 8Mr. J.J. Kruger in the cab of the locomotive which will take the White Train, bearing the Royal Family, from Cape Town.
1974 Rhodeo (Rhodes Univ.) 5 Sept. 6The White train coasted down the hill past my house and even I gave it a wave which was returned with the best of royal humour by a steward in the dining car.
1980 Daily Dispatch 18 Mar. 9Mr Heunis confessed that the White Train had gone to the big station in the sky. ‘I’m afraid it no longer exists’.
1981 Sunday Times 27 Sept. 30That Boeing, Presidents, VIPs..and Cabinet Ministers, for the use of, will soon take to the air. A sort of airborne White Train which was so unceremoniously pensioned off.
1984 Daily Dispatch 16 Mar. 1The White Train..is to form a central part of the signing of the pact.
1988 R. Gordon in Laband & Haswell Pietermaritzburg 1838–1988 95For almost three months the White Train was his home.
one classified as belonging to the ‘white’ group, especially in terms of the Population Registration Act (see quotation 1950 at B 1 a). See also classify, non-whitenoun, playwhite.
classified as a ‘white person’ in terms of the Population Registration Act (see quotation 1950).
Reserved by law for those classified as ‘white’; usually attributive, as white area, white beach, white job, white liquor, white school, white taxi, etc.
Impudent, presumptuous;